Marketing Analytics: Putting More Than a Face on Your Donors
I used to love playing with Mr. Potato Head. With every new nose, lips or eyes, hair and ears, hands or feet, I seemingly created a new character—each one a bit different than the others. But behind all those interchangeable features, he was still just a potato.
In some strange way I feel that a lot of direct response fundraisers have a similar view of the individuals who make contributions to their organizations. Direct response fundraisers, by and large, are still creating personas for donors based on basic elements of their giving (amount of their gift, number of gifts, and the date of the last gift), and when there is a change to one of those elements, they put a new face on the individual—but beneath it all, it’s still just a donor.
But unlike Mr. Potato Head, who will sadly always be a potato (not saying anything is wrong with that), people who support charitable organizations have the potential to become far more than just a donor. Thanks to the evolution of digital philanthropy and the rise of marketing intelligence and advanced analytics in fundraising, far greater insights into consumer giving behavior, interests, attitudes and preferences can be harvested. Fundraisers can now become more acquainted with the diverse characteristics of individuals who support their organizations, rather than simply lumping them into the category of “donors.”
Escalating fundraising costs, eroding performance metrics, increasing competition—for external market share and/or for internal investment dollars—and changing behaviors of donors are forcing organizations to change business strategies. Chief development officers, who are managing diverse portfolios of giving programs, are challenged to not only tune each program individually, but to deliver a more effective solution to optimize budgets and deploy depleting resources across the entire program portfolio to meet revenue growth goals.
Greg Fox is vice president of nonprofit vertical strategy at Merkle. He joined the company in 2000 to establish a data-driven, strategic fundraising agency group. Fox is a 30-year veteran of direct response fundraising, with expertise in developing innovative fundraising marketing strategies and solutions. He has helped raise hundreds of millions of dollars for many of the largest and most respected fundraising brands in America, and while he has broad-based fundraising experience, he is highly regarded as a leader in the national health-charity sector. Prior to joining Merkle, Fox was a founding partner in TheraCom, a leading provider of full-service specialty pharmacy solutions and marketing strategies that served the healthcare and charitable industries. He also served as vice president of direct response fundraising at the National Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, where he started his career and created the organization’s first national direct response program. Fox is an industry thought-leader, frequent speaker at industry conferences and an active participant in the DMA nonprofit federation. He graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va.